Not Against Me but For God

Text: Luke 9:49-50
John answered, ‘Master, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he does not follow with us.’  But Jesus said to him, ‘Do not stop him; for whoever is not against you is for you.’ (NRSV)

This may have been the very first case of “denominationalism.”  Someone else, an outsider of one group, calling on Jesus’ name to do good, and a member of the other group, trying to stop them.

I’m very used to the joking that goes on between disparate groups of the same general body.  In my 38 years of military service, I have served in the Coast Guard, the Navy, and the Air Force. While I was a Navy chaplain, I served the Marine Corps and wore their uniform with Navy insignias.  Each branch of the armed services has a joke specifically targeting the others.  In fact, some of them are very funny if you are not too thinned skinned.  What I was most aware of though, was that as they took shots at each other, don’t you ever think that they would not die for one another in battle against a common enemy.

I’m not so sure that is true with denominations or other expressions of the Christian faith within Christianity.  I think there are denominations and other expressions of our Christian faith that honestly think they are the only ones who are the true followers of Jesus Christ and would keep others who call on Jesus’ name from doing ministry in His name.  In fact, we have historical evidence of different groups of Christians persecuting other groups of Christians even to death.

But when John reveals that he and the other disciples saw someone who was not a part of their group doing ministry in Jesus’ name and tried to stop him, Jesus was clear that this should never happen; “Whoever is not against you is for you.”  After reading this, I guess I should start talking to my sister again who is an American Baptist minister… (just kidding, we have a great relationship).

Pray with me:

God of love and God of diversity remind me that even though I don’t always or even often agree with others who practice Christianity differently than I do, that the other is not against me but for You.  Help me to support my brothers and sisters from other expressions of Christianity in all that they do to serve you in good works and the proclamation of the good news of Jesus Christ.  AMEN.

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